By Lyndsey Kleven
The Digital Works program launched in June 2013, and is Connect Ohio’s newest initiative to help connect people to twenty-first century jobs while spurring community revitalization. And the program has done just that; 10 Digital Works locations opened across Ohio and put 153 Ohioans back to work over the past year.
Digital Works is proud to recognize Dennis Irwin as its 100th participant to be placed into a job. Irwin is a product of the Digital Works Lynchburg location and came to the program with his wife, Cheryl, in February after facing many challenges. The Irwins previously work for the same company and found themselves unemployed when their former employer closed its Wilmington, Ohio office and restructured.
“To say Dennis and Cheryl Irwin have had their set of challenges over the past few years would be an understatement,” said Joel Pierre, Digital Works Lynchburg facilitator.
Dennis’ next move was to earn a degree in Sports Management and Wellness and he was able to find employment again working in a rehabilitation facility. Cheryl experienced major health issues causing her to be unable to stay consistently employed. Shortly after, Dennis took a major fall at work and found himself unable to work.
“Being unemployed for so long has been extremely difficult for both of us,” said Dennis Irwin.
Dennis could not return to his former position but was able to find work in a local manufacturing facility. He was making even less money than before and was in constant pain, later resulting in his fourth layoff over a 13 month period. Dennis came to Digital Works in the middle of February with the hopes of learning the necessary skills to secure a job where he could eventually work from home.
“You can only imagine how discouraged they sounded,” said Pierre. “Dennis was the first to start Digital Works and I kept encouraging him not to give up. I assisted in putting Dennis in touch with all of the resources that he needed to be successful with the program, and encouraged him to bring his wife in to get started.”
Digital Works provides mentoring and training to workers seeking employment with opportunities for advancement in more technical jobs. Seeing her husband go through the training process and with Pierre’s encouragement, Cheryl Irwin started the program February 28. The Irwins were able to finish the Digital Works training together and started earning an income again on March 26.
“There are not a lot of jobs available in our area. I am grateful for a job that allows me the flexibility to work around my injury and make my own schedule,” said Dennis Irwin. “We calculated out the rest of the month, if we keep our call volume up and with all of the games I’ll umpire on the side, we’d be able to live comfortably. A few months like that and we’re back on track.”
Digital Works is currently taking applicants for the program, all interested participants can learn more or complete the online application through: www.digitalworksjobs.org